updated 01:30 am EST, Fri December 23, 2011
Hard-bargaining, suspicious Jobs called a 'joker'
More evidence has emerged of the young Steve Jobs as a difficult, hard-bargaining, secretive entrepreneur who was already convinced he and Steve Wozniak were onto a good thing when a letter written by advertising agency owner Mike Rose to his business partner describing his encounter with the pair in June of 1976 was printed by Bloomberg on Thursday. Jobs had been referred to Rose by Regis McKenna, but Rose was unimpressed with Jobs, calling him a "joker."
The letter (reprinted below) describes some of the characteristics that would mark Jobs in later life, including a tendency to be suspicious (Rose wrote "Told him we'd like to see what they've got" but that Jobs "wouldn't trust me." He described Wozniak and Jobs to his partner as "two guys -- they built kits -- operate out of a garage ... sounds flakey. Watch it!" At the time, Jobs and Wozniak had already formed the company and debuted the Apple I nearly three months earlier, but had not yet incorporated.
Jobs was looking for a company that would supervise the printing of the Apple I computer's manual, but as Rose reported, Jobs was driving for a deal. "Wants it for nothing," he wrote. Rose and his partner would later offer a bid but it was ultimately rejected by Jobs as too high. The manual was later much more simply printer by a typesetter.
In discussing the find, historian Leslie Berlin of the Silicon Valley Archives at Stanford noted that a person like Rose, approached today by a small Silicon Valley startup company, might not dismiss such an offer out-of-hand, in light of the history of successful small companies born there (in part thanks to Apple, HP and other early technology pioneers). They might instead negotiate a discount or trade in exchange for some stock in the company.
The original manual, when finally produced, was 12 pages and included schematics and machine-code instructions that would needed to be typed in by users to test the Apple I. The original Apple I sold for $666.66, though some writing at the bottom of Rose's note (which may not be the same handwriting) refers to prices for component parts and indicates a wholesale price of $500, though this may not be referring to the Apple I at all.
The note also features Jobs' home address and phone at the original house in Los Altos, along with driving directions.